Silverstone Circuit
Silverstone Circuit (Officially Mr X /

You could have probably second-guessed us following up the question “how long does an F1 race last” with “how long is a piece of string”? It’s true though that not every race can last the same amount of time, nor the same number of laps. Grand Prix races are designed to be staged at a particular distance or race time, using average car speeds, usually working out at around 80-100 minutes for the typical track. Basically then, we work on Formula One Grands Prix around one and a half hours long, though there are plenty of track specifics to keep in mind.

The rule that really counts here is this one: Formula One races must take place over a minimum distance of 305km or 190 miles. With that in mind, calculations are needed for the number of laps required at each circuit. As this is just a minimum, we don’t always cover 305km only and some races go on longer than others due to various circumstances.

The famous track at Spa in Belgium, for example, is some 7km long. With that, only 44 laps are needed to get beyond the 305km minimum distance. 71 laps are needed at Interlagos in Brazil, where the circuit is tighter and shorter. In dry conditions, a 305km Grand Prix will take roughly 90 minutes. The time taken to finish the race naturally goes up the slower the cars go – i.e., when the rain hits or when there is a crash and the safety car has to be deployed. In terms of time, the faster the cars can go over 305+ kilometres, the quicker the race can finish.

The Monte Carlo Grand Prix

Monte Carlo Grand Prix
Monte Carlo Grand Prix (Rodrigo Soldon /

The Monaco Grand Prix, staged on the streets of Monte Carlo, is exceptional in many ways. One of those ways is the distance covered which is not standard. Monaco in fact is the only exception to the 305km rule. As the most famous F1 race of all, the field covers 260km only across some 78 laps.

Despite covering only 85% of the distance used at other circuits, the Monaco Grand Prix is still often two hours long and offers more entertainment for watchers than other races. Gear changes are much more frequent here and the turns are tight. This leads to lower average speeds around the street circuit laid out in the famous principality and it is highly unlikely to ever be changed.

Maximum Race Length Rules

While the typical Grand Prix lasts around 90 minutes, the rule is that regardless of race distance it must not exceed two hours. Should the race distance and number of laps not be reached, usually because of safety issues or bad weather, and the two-hour time limit comes up, then the race must end at the completion of the next full lap. There are exceptions, however. For example, if a race has been stopped by a red flag situation, then the total time, including the stoppage, cannot exceed three hours. This, however, is very rare.

The Longest Formula One Races

Reims-Gueux track
Reims-Gueux track (Tvx1 /

Based on race distance, the longest Grand Prix ever was the 1951 race in France. Just under 602km were covered in the French Grand Prix with 77 laps being covered of the Reims-Gueux track in the Alfa Romeo shared by Juan Manuel Fangio and Luigi Fagioli. After that, in 1954, came the longest ever F1 race with no stoppages. The German Grand Prix, which was won again by Fangio, covered 22 laps of the Nurburgring. It took 3 hours, 45 minutes but isn’t quite the longest Grand Prix ever in terms of time.

That accolade belongs to the 2011 Canadian Grand Prix. Back then, the safety car was brought out six separate times and there was a prolonged red flag period. In the end, the slowest F1 race ever was covered by winner Jenson Button at just 74.86km per hour and took 4 hours, 4 minutes.

The longest race in modern F1 history without a red flag was the 2017 Singapore Grand Prix. 61 laps had been scheduled, but only 58 could be covered when the time limit was reached. Two hours and three minutes after it started, Lewis Hamilton took the race.

The Shortest Formula One Race

Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, home of the Belgian Grand Prix
Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, home of the Belgian Grand Prix (Srtxg /

The shortest F1 race of all time, beating a 30-year record, came as recently as 2021 in Belgium. There, the rain pelted down persistently meaning no real racing took place at all. Instead, three laps were covered behind the safety car in order to constitute a result. Essentially, the 2021 Belgian Grand Prix was a washout.

Track-By-Track F1 Race Distances

The circuits used in Formula One can and do change occasionally. Using the 2022 season as a good guide, however, this is how many laps were needed to cover each track along with how long each race took:

Grand Prix Circuit Distance Laps Time
Bahrain Grand Prix Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir 308.2km 57 1:37:33.584
Saudi Arabian Grand Prix Jeddah Corniche Circuit, Jeddah 308.45km 50 1:24:19.293
Australian Grand Prix Albert Park Circuit, Melbourne 306.12km 58 1:27:46.548
Emilia Romagna Grand Prix Imola Circuit, Imola 309.04km 63 1:32:07.986
Miami Grand Prix Miami International Autodrome, Miami Gardens 308.32km 57 1:34:24.258
Spanish Grand Prix Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, Montmelo 308.55km 66 1:37:20.475
Monaco Grand Prix Circuit de Monaco, Monaco 260.28km 64 1:56:30.265
Azerbaijan Grand Prix Baku City Circuit, Baku 306.04km 51 1:34:05.941
Canadian Grand Prix Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Montreal 305.27km 70 1:36:21.757
British Grand Prix Silverstone Circuit, Silverstone 306.19km 52 2:17:50.311
Austrian Grand Prix Red Bull Ring, Spielberg 306.45km 71 1:24:24.312
French Grand Prix Circuit Paul Ricard, Le Castellet 309.62km 53 1:30:02.112
Hungarian Grand Prix Hungaroring, Mogyorod 306.63km 70 1:39:35.912
Belgian Grand Prix Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, Stavelot 308.05km 44 1:25:52.894
Dutch Grand Prix Circuit Zandvoort, Zandvoort 306.58km 72 1:36:42.773
Italian Grand Prix Monza Circuit, Monza 306.72km 53 1:20:27.511
Singapore Grand Prix Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore 308.70km 59 2:02:20.238
Japanese Grand Prix Suzuka International Racing Course, Suzuka 307.47km 28 3:01:44.044
United States Grand Prix Circuit of the Americas, Austin 308.40km 56 1:42:11.687
Mexico City Grand Prix Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, Mexico City 305.35km 71 1:38:36.729
Sao Paulo Grand Prix Interlagos Circuit, Sao Paulo 305.87km 71 1:38:34.044
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi 306.18km 58 1:27:45.914